Last week, Alliance For Change (AFC) Leader Raphael Trotman announced that his party was contemplating contesting this year’s Local Government Elections as an individual political party. Trotman was careful to say that while no concrete decision has been taken, there were very strong views in his party that believed contesting the upcoming LGE polls alone would assist the party with maintaining its individual identity.
He did mention that there were also those within the leadership of the party that preferred the AFC to contest as part of the coalition that won the last General Elections, as he explained that nothing in the Cummingsburg Accord signed with the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) prohibits the party from going solo at the local level.
He would offer no other reasons for the departure from what obtained at the last Local Government Elections where the AFC competed in certain areas alone but on behalf of the coalition and where the PNC and APNu competed in other areas. The two did not challenge each other but the AFC came out feeling undermined as the PNC and its APNU counterparts ate a large portion of the seating allotted after the election.
Also, one does not have to look hard to understand the rationale in the minds of those who would prefer the AFC to compete independent of the coalition. On one hand, the party wants to test its strength and likeability as well as popularity at the local level. It wants to see if indeed it has lost grassroots support and if it is able to wield the same political influence that it did when it competed alone at the 2011 General and Regional Elections.
If the party choses this route, then it will also be able to test the criticisms that it is dying as many of those cross over it commanded have returned home because of neglect, the party abandonment of its core principles and internal corruption in the party’s groups across the country. Were it to go down this path too, the party could also see how viable it would be to quit the coalition alliance in 2020 and compete alone as well as against the APNU in its bid to take the control of the Executive and introduce its own brand of transformative politics and governance.
On the other hand, any decision by the AFC to face the electorate of this country alone at the local level could prove disastrous and lethal. Mr Trotman, Khemraj Ramjattan and Moses “Elder” Nagamootoo know too well the dynamics on the ground. They know that since their decision to coalesce with the PNC-led APNU, it betrayed many of the right-wing, middle-class and traditional anti-PPP/PNC grassroots people from whom the AFC originally drew its support.
The AFC’s defence of the Government’s approach to the so-called restriction of the sugar industry and its decision to make thousands of predominantly East Indian Guyanese unemployed while denying them their full severance at the time of dismissal, sealed the deal as far as betraying those groups that it won electoral support from in order to secure a victory against the still very popular People’s Progressive Party (PPP) at the last election.
The truth may come out. And the fact that the AFC’s influence has declined significantly will be laid bare. The fact that it is not a party that is ‘the party of the future’ and can never be viewed as a credible third force in this country again because of both the track record of those who held ministerial posts in its leadership and their poor performances. Also, the AFC’s inability to force the coalition Government to deal seriously with issues relating to constitutional reform, ethnic inclusivity and good governance. It’s treatment of senior Executives, both past and future, who have had dissenting views will also flavour the poison that it will drink were it to move away from the shield provided by the coalition alliance.
Today, the AFC is weaker than it has ever been in its history. It is internally divided as seven leaders in its Executive seek to manipulate and heavily influence the path it must traverse through dubious means and cliquism which see them sabotaging other newcomers to stay relevant or enjoy the “fat” perks and benefits of political and Executive power.
The entire leadership of the AFC aside from Cathy Hughes and Trevor Williams should resign and give way for newer and less tainted blood if the party wants to be reborn again in order to prove its political acumen at any future election.